My brother loves this record. At first I didn’t have a clue why. American Beauty sounded too much like an imitation of Crosby, Stills & Nash (maybe not & Young).
Of course it didn’t help that Grateful Dead sounded completely different on Live/Dead, where they were the ultimate jam band. And now they’re doing this soft folky countryrock-thing? What the heck? Everyone is allowed to change styles of course, but it made the CSN-impression harder.
However, there are some nice tunes to be found here, and actually it’s quite an enjoyable album. The harmonies are less striking than with CSN and that can be a good thing. The singer has a pretty voice and the melodies are catchy. What marks this album is its simplicity: every song is quite calm (but different from the others) and finished. No fringy details, no sound effects, just plain good songs, Box of Rain, Friend of the Devil, Operator, Ripple and Truckin’ being the highlights.